The next thing I remember was opening eyes some unknown time later. Firstly I saw Dr Maston, whom I recognized as a chief medic of the Resistance. I was laid down on a bed. Noticing my awareness, Maston spoke in his typically calm voice.
"Morgan? Good to see you recovering so quickly. Do not worry ― you will be just fine. We are in the resistance base. Our search squad found you a bit beaten and scarred among the cliffs near the Scarpine outpost, where you went on your mission two nights ago. We're not sure whether you lost your footing or were perhaps surprised by a Scarpine patrol. Anyhow, the important thing is, you will be back to your usual self soon."
I nodded, and he continued. "Dr Kelley told me to call for him as soon as you have regained consciousness. I will call him now. He probably wants to know about the outcome of the talks with that defecting Scarpine officer you met."
Obviously, the secret of my mission's true purpose was still kept well. And so, a couple of minutes later, Kelley indeed came and sat next to me, looking quite excited.
"Having heard you are recovering quickly is second recent good news. Let me tell you what has been going on since yesterday morning."
He looked around whether anyone was close enough to eavesdrop. Having assured himself that was not the case, he continued, "The ripple generator you have started on your mission is doing its job well, and even more importantly, we are on to something. Last night those alien ripples loitered indeed around the Scarpine's outpost, were recorded by our device which emitted the number series, and then ― incredibly ― those ripples immediately changed their behavior. They came to the device, did some kind of a more powerful ripple a few times, as if probing around it, did a few circles around it, and then disappeared after a few minutes ― probably relocating somewhere."
"So we have a basis for communication," I replied with my still somewhat raspy voice.
"Yes! I don't remember having felt so scientifically excited for years! And you can imagine how hard it is having to remain quiet about it. Not only do we have a solid indication this is indeed a form of intelligence, but also that it is probably not hostile."
The warning from the E-Man did not escape my thoughts, however. "What do you suggest as a next step, then? We should be careful, to say the least, with the powers... beings... that can deform spacetime."
"That's right. But as we both agreed two weeks ago, what is the worst that can happen? Reducing our chances in a war where they are slim anyway?"
"Therefore, Morgan, I think we should try to communicate one way or another. I am already working on a drawing we could encode in a series of pulses..."
Kelley was interrupted by Alice rushing into the room. "Dr Kelley, come quickly! Morgan, you're fine! Come along too. You won't believe what you are about to see!"
This gave me a burst of energy so I managed to stand up and follow them toward a communication console in the next room. A videostream had just been turned on and a smiling face appeared.
Dr Kelley opened his mouth in awe. "Great Scott! Is that really you? You are alive?"
I was shocked as well. It was none other than Dr Rosenbaum, my ex-boss, the lead researcher of the Blue Mega's Anomalous materials lab! The man who had designed, among other things, the famous anti-mass spectrometer. He had disappeared after the incident and everyone assumed he must have died ― together with thousands of other personnel ― in the thermonuclear explosion that wiped the Black Mega off the Earth. Even more shocking was his appearance: he seemed a bit tired, but looked exactly like how I remembered him. I couldn't help asking myself whether his contract might have as well been offered to the highest bidder?
"Well, as far as I know, I am, old pal," said the figure. "Oh, Morgan, you are there too! You haven't aged a day!"
"Where are you? Where were you all this time?" I asked.
"Judging by my antenna direction and signal strength, probably about forty to sixty kilometers north from you. I think I am not extremely safe here in this area, so let's first get me to your base, and then we can discuss all that has happened and is happening."
"That is a good idea, a squad will leave to pick you up immediately," replied Kelley. "Turn off the transmitter now for your safety, and blip your beacon once every half an hour, so that the search party can find you."